Japan is famous across the globe for its exciting festivals, and in June, festivals in Japan are the perfect way to connect with the traditions and culture in different parts of the country.
Japanese festivals, known as matsuri, are a wonderful insight into life in Japan over the generations. Dotted across the year, they are highlights in the calendar. Some of our favorite June festivals in Japan include Yosakoi Soran Festival, Atsuta Matsuri, Sanno Matsuri, and Aizen Festival.
Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival (Tokyo)
There are various June festivals in Japan celebrating all the beautiful hydrangea flowers in bloom. One of the most famous of these hydrangea festivals is the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival.
The arrival of the rainy season signals the arrival of the hydrangea season. Hydrangeas, known as Ajisai in Japanese, are alluring plants with large clusters of colorful flowers. They come in an assortment of colors including blue, purple, white, and pink. In Japan, the hydrangea colors are particularly vivid, so a trip to see some hydrangea is a great way to brighten up the rainy season!
The Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival features around 3000 hydrangea flowers around Hakusan Park and Hakusan Shrine. As well as the striking blooms, visitors can also enjoy the food vendor stalls.
Yosakoi Soran Festival (Sapporo)
A colorful celebration of dance, Yosakoi Soran Festival is a 5-day festival that takes place in Sapporo’s famous Odori Park in Hokkaido. It’s held in early June, marking the start of summer in a euphoric way. The festival is filled with music, movement, and bright colors, which means it’s a great festival to take children to.
Yosakoi Soran Festival began in 1992. Yosakoi is a type of team dance that began in the 1950s. It is a modern adaptation of the Awa Odori dance festival held in August in Tokushima prefecture and the Yosakoi Matsuri in Kochi prefecture on Shikoku.
At the Yosakoi Soran Festival, attendees can witness some of the most mesmerizing and spirited group dance performances. The performances are incredibly energetic, and they feature elaborate flags and costumes, chanting, and taiko rhythms.
In schools in Japan, most children learn some of these group dances to perform at school ceremonies such as sports day, where the dance festival is integral to the ceremony, if not the main event! The most popular dance piece is the Soran Bushi.
Although the main site is at Odori Park, the festival is spread across the city of Sapporo, with around 20 different sites.
Atsuta Matsuri (Nagoya)
Atsuta Matsuri is another one of the most popular June festivals in Japan. With fireworks, traditional performances, martial arts, endless food stalls, and other forms of entertainment, it symbolizes the start of summer in Nagoya.
The Atsuta Matsuri is held every year on June 5th. The festival begins at 10 am with some Shinto rituals, where the Emperor and priests of the shrine perform a ceremony for the gods and goddesses of the shrine.
During the day at Atsuta Matsuri, visitors can enjoy the Atsuta Kagura, a traditional Shinto dance and music performance, with Japanese flutes. There are also wonderful martial arts performances, including Sumo, Kendo, and Kyudo, as well as traditional dance performances and thrilling Japanese Taiko drum performances.
At night, there are five large floats, called Kento Makiwara, which are decorated with 365 lanterns. These floats are lit up and displayed at the shrine. After this, the festival transforms into a sky of fireworks to mark the end of the festival at Jingu Koen Park.
The festival is a great opportunity to see a vast array of traditional Japanese cultural performances, so please do go and visit!
Aizen Festival (Osaka)
One of the many famous summer festivals in Japan is the Aizen Festival, also known as Aizen san. It is held every year from June 30th to July 2nd, usually falling right in the middle of the rainy season.
Aizen Festival is one of three big festivals in Osaka. The Aizen Matsuri is the oldest summer festival in Japan, having begun 1400 years ago.
On June 30th there is a Hoekado parade. This traditionally involved Geisha being carried to a shrine or temple, and many would gather in the hopes of being able to see a beautiful Geisha. Nowadays, rather than a Geisha, the woman who is carried is usually a celebrity or other person who has been carefully selected through a screening process.
Also, the Aizen Festival is the only time when visitors can go inside the Aizen pagoda, so many people enjoy the unique opportunity. At night the festival transforms into a party, with food stalls, games, and performances.
Sanno Matsuri (Tokyo)
Sanno Matsuri is one of the three most famous festivals in Tokyo, alongside the Kanda Matsuri and the Fukagawa Matsuri. The Sanno Festival and Kanda festival alternate each year, with the Sanno festival held on even-numbered years, and the Kanda festival taking place on odd-numbered years.
The Sanno Matsuri is held in mid-June, lasting for just over a week, and it is one of the most popular June festivals in Japan. The festival’s main highlight is a large parade held on a weekend day. The Sanno parade travels all around central Tokyo, beginning and ending at Hie Shrine, a place believed to protect the city.
At the heart of the procession, three portable shrines carry the Shinto gods around the city. The parade is about 300-meters long, so anyone attending will also find a lot of people in colorful costumes, as well as various floats. The festival also incorporates traditional Japanese forms of entertainment, such as dance and music.
The modern-day Sanno Matsuri is much smaller than it was in the Edo period. In the Edo period, the festival was an enormous celebration of the new rulers and politics of the Edo times. However, it’s still a wonderful celebration and a way to connect to the country’s past.
As a result of the rainy season, June is often a quiet month for a lot of people. One great way to bring some color and excitement into your month is to attend one of many June festivals in Japan. All of these festivals are easily accessible from popular Village House apartments so if you are looking for an apartment in any of the mentioned areas, be sure to check out the Village House website. Make the most out of June and visit some of these festivals!